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Georgia's new GOP election law draws criticism, lawsuits

Those challenging the law said it could diminish minority voters' voice.

ATLANTA — Critics of Georgia’s new Republican-backed election law have issued calls to boycott some of the state's largest businesses.

Leaders of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Georgia are sending a letter to 90,000 parishioners. The letter calls for a boycott of Georgia's largest companies if they don't speak out more forcefully against the law. 

The pressure comes as advocacy organizations file challenges in federal court. On Tuesday, 11Alive learned of a third lawsuit. 

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), ACLU of Georgia, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), and law firms WilmerHale and Davis Wright Tremaine have brought a case on behalf of the Sixth District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and SPLC clients Georgia Muslim Voter Project, Women Watch Afrika, and Latino Community Fund of Georgia. They addressed the media at 1 p.m. Tuesday. 

The groups are targeting specific provisions in the law that they say could diminish minority voters' voice.

"This law is voter suppression plain and simple," said Sophia Lin Lakin. deputy director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. " Aimed at making it harder for Black and Brown and other historically disenfranchised communities to have a voice in our democracy."

RELATED: Gov. Kemp signs controversial GOP elections bill into law

The move coming on the heels of two other lawsuits filed by the New Georgia Project last week and the Georgia NAACP on Sunday. All allege the new election law discriminates against Black voters.

"It's an absolute shameful response to the historic participation by these communities in the last election cycle," she said.

The 95-page bill:

  • Requires an ID number, like a driver’s license, to apply for an absentee ballot
  • Cuts off absentee ballot applications 11 days before an election
  • Limits the number of absentee ballot drop boxes
  • Allows the state to take control of what it calls “underperforming” local election systems
  • Disallows volunteers from giving away food and drink to voters waiting in line

Sophia Lin Lakin added that part of the law -- making it a crime to hand out food and water to voters waiting in line -- is cruel.

Many Republicans, however, have said the state election law was overdue to get an overhaul, irrespective of the 2020 election. 

Gabriel Sterling at the Secretary of State's Office previously told 11Alive that claims of voter fraud and voter suppression in Georgia are baseless.

"The claims of voter suppression are as wrong and morally repugnant as claims of voter fraud were wrong and morally repugnant," said Sterling. "Because all it's doing is weaponizing and challenging people's faith in the electoral system."

11Alive reached out to the governor's office for comment on the measure and the lawsuits. We are hoping to speak with Gov. Brian Kemp Wednesday.